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For week ended August 01, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Murder suspect's trial postponed, mired in confusion

Summarized by Eric Bunker

Murder suspect's trial postponed, mired in confusion
Provo UT Daily Herald 29Jul99 L8
By Pat Christian: Daily Herald

PROVO, UT -- What a disorganized chicken-chase it has been in court for accused teenage murderer, Edgardo S. Mata, as his defenders are playing musical chairs. The chaotic sideshow came full flower last Wednesday when Mata appeared in the 4th District Court. He has already had a preliminary hearing and was bound over for a trial that has been on hold because he was not represented. The case was postponed for a few weeks until adequate representation is found.

Mata, a member of the Church, stands accused of a Dec. 19th gang-dispute murder at Club Omni in Provo and has been incarcerated since his arrest in December. The 18-year-old faces charges in the murder case of Ramon Pena, 17, who was shot in the head at the dance club.

Initially, he had a public defender, but then his mother hired a private attorney, Dean Zabriskie, who took the case for a few months until he himself was arrested on criminal charges. Until his mother finds a new lawyer, he was again assigned a public defender, Carlos Garcia, just before court. His mother is currently trying to get Provo attorney Sheldon Carter to represent him.

At court, his bishop showed up at the request of his mother to find and connect with Mr. Carter about Mata's representation. There he happened to meet another Provo attorney Robert Culas, and Culas told him he had come to court "to make an appearance for Mata." But he said he knew little about the case. However, as it turned out Culas did not appear for Mata.

Inside the courtroom, attorneys Carter, Garcia and Zabriskie talked together privately about the case. When the district judge called Mata's case, it was Zabriskie spoke up, though officially Public defender Carlos Garcia represented Mata in court that day.

At an earlier hearing, Mata had told Judge Ray Harding Senior that he wanted Carter to represent him. But he said he had not yet retained him. Carter told The Daily Herald more than a week ago he had talked to Mata, but had not decided if he would take the case.

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